Change is inevitable, but in the case of some landmark Montreal restaurants, mercifully slower to take hold. In an age when so many icons have been lost — Magnan Tavern, Moe's Snack Bar, Le Latini, and even Bistro à Champlain up north — nostalgia junkies find succor wherever they can. Regulars at Café Oxford (see photo gallery below) don't necessarily come for a heaping of old-timey sentimentality, even if the throwback décor hints at the city's bygone streetcar era. Sure, the Notre-Dame-de-Grâce institution has stood on the corner of Sherbrooke and Oxford since 1944, but its workaday menu fulfills the mission of every good neighbourhood restaurant: feeding hungry people, with a modicum of fuss.
"We are trying to preserve tradition while serving great food."
Gity Pour and Mohamed Salgooghian have run Café Oxford since 1996, and haven't messed with the winning formula of dutifully serving hearty breakfast all day, every day. "We are trying to preserve tradition while serving great food. Everything is homemade and prepared with fresh ingredients," Pour said in a 2013 interview. After two decades, the couple is ready to pass the torch, and recently put the business up for sale.
When Café Oxford opened as Ma Heller’s snack bar in 1944, eggs Benedict wasn't on the menu. Elvis Presley, still in grade school, wasn't sufficiently famous enough to have his own sandwich (French toast stuffed with peanut butter, bacon, and bananas). There was no Wi-Fi, or showing of hockey games. The restaurant wasn't a bring-your-own-wine, as it is now. Other than these, and a few other concessions to the times, however, Café Oxford is exactly as it should be.
5630 Sherbrooke Ouest
Serves breakfast daily, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; dinner Thursday to Saturday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., reservation only